Religion: Vitoria's Cemetery

Among the hosts of Jews expelled from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492* were the 2,000 of the Basque city of Vitoria—and Vitoria watched them go with regret. Eight years before, when the Christian doctors of Vitoria had fled from the bubonic plague, Jewish doctors had come out of their ghetto to minister to the town's sick and dying. Vitoria's city fathers gave their bond to the departing Jews that their ancient cemetery, the Judiz Mendi (Jewish Hill), would never be "touched, wounded or tilled."

Vitoria kept its word. For 4½ centuries, the earth of the Judiz Mendi lay inviolate in...

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